Emergencies Leadership Group Update following Thursday 23 April meeting

The ELG met again last week to drive progress and continue their focus on making inroads where it matters most .

The Emergencies Leadership Group met last week and noted significant progress across its main themes. Community and Voluntary sector representatives asked about the £22m for supporting organisations who have lost their fundraising or earned income. This is Northern Ireland’s share of the £750m support package announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP. DfC officials are working tirelessly with colleagues across other government departments to prepare a scheme for Ministerial approval.

The funding is insufficient to meet the full need given the losses, but it is expected it will be in place and allocating funds in May.

Community Helpline

Starting from scratch and having experienced some early problems, the Community Helpline has turned a huge corner and moved to a 97% answer rate with callers experiencing less than a minute waiting time.


There has been exponential growth in demand for food boxes and some indications of disparity across referrals Northern Ireland wide. This service is for those in critical need of food and have no other means to access it. People who are shielded or isolating and are struggling to get food because they lack family and friend support networks or have limited financial means caused by the crisis. Supply is and will meet demand.


Volunteer Now temporarily closed their recruitment when numbers of volunteers registered reached over 4,000 with limited new roles to fill at present. There are already large numbers of volunteers engaged across Northern Ireland helping those in need. They will need to be supplemented in the weeks ahead. There are now over 300 organisations registered on the system to recruit volunteers since the new platform was introduced.

Pharmacy and access to medicines

There are now 172 pharmacies registered and 142 matched with volunteers to get medicines delivered to those in the shielded group, isolating or who cannot collect their own prescriptions. The Community Development and Health Network has moved to Phase 2 with the aim of rolling out the programme to those pharmacies who have yet to sign up. Some Pharmacies do have their own systems for delivery.

Wellbeing Strand

A ‘COVID19 Mental Health and Beyond’ campaign is being developed involving the 10 main mental health charities, Healthy Living Centres, Public Health Agency and networks in conjunction with the Department for Health. It is expected this campaign will go live very soon.  The Emergencies Leadership Group is represented on the DoH Mental and Emotional Health group by Lisa McElherron.

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